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Friction Burn

A friction burn occurs when skin is scraped off by contact with surfaces such as roads, carpets, or other hard floor surfaces. It usually is both a scrape (abrasion) and a heat burn.

Friction burns are often seen in athletes who fall on floors, courts, tracks, or artificial turfs. Motorcycle or bicycle riders who have road accidents while not wearing protective clothing may get friction burns.

Friction burns can occur on any part of the body but these types of scrapes usually affect bony areas, such as the hands, forearms, elbows, knees, or shins. Scrapes are usually more painful than cuts because scrapes tear a larger area of skin and expose more nerve endings. Scrapes on the head or face may appear worse than they are and bleed a lot because of the ample blood supply to this area.

The seriousness of the injury can be determined after the bleeding is controlled. The friction burn should be cleaned and any dirt or debris removed to prevent infections.

Last Revised: December 27, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine

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